July 25, 2018

SFWMD Emergency Actions Are Moving Water South, Helping to Lower Water Levels in Conservation Areas
Latest video update highlights online tools to keep public apprised of District's actions to mitigate high water emergency
Click on the image to watch the latest weekly SFWMD video update.
West Palm Beach, FL - The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) has been working around the clock to lower water levels in the water conservation areas to create capacity for sending additional Lake Okeechobee water south, all in an effort to alleviate South Florida's high water emergency.
SFWMD Hydrology and Hydraulics Bureau Chief Akin Owosina gave an update on the District's operations through the agency's weekly video series, which is dedicated to informing the public on current water conditions and the agency's actions amid the high water emergency. The video update can be seen by clicking HERE or visiting the District's website dedicated to the emergency situation at www.sfwmd.gov/managinghighwater .
The video update shows the public how to use SFWMD's "Storage Capacity and Moving Water North and South of Lake Okeechobee" map and its "System Constraints" map to stay apprised of the latest water conditions. Both maps can be found through SFWMD's Managing High Water website.
The Storage Capacity map shows the public how much water has been moved through specific structures in the flood control system in the past week and the current water levels in the conservation areas and Kissimmee Upper Chain of Lakes.
The Constraints map shows how water moves from north to south in the flood control system and depicts weekly conditions and information on the structures controlling the flow of water. SFWMD uses a detailed set of criteria or "constraints" based on public safety and sound science to determine whether each structure, including Flow Equalization Basins, Stormwater Treatment Areas, pump stations and canals, can store more water or move more water south. That status is translated into a simple "traffic light" for each structure on the map with green lights meaning the structure is "unconstrained" and can move more water and red lights meaning it is constrained and cannot. Several key structures on the map are currently "unconstrained" and moving as much water south as possible.
May's record rainfall caused Lake Okeechobee to rise more than a foot, which led the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to begin releases from the lake on June 1 to the northern estuaries. At the same time, this record rainfall inundated the water conservation areas, causing them to rise considerably above their regulation schedules. To combat this, SFWMD continues to take every action within its authority to lower water levels, including storing water on public and private lands. Additionally, every available structure is being utilized and temporary pumps have been installed to move additional water.
On June 20, Gov. Rick Scott directed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to issue an emergency order, which revised permitting criteria, thereby, allowing the District to install several temporary pumps. These pumps, along with permanent structures, are currently being operated by the District 24 hours a day to move more water out of the conservation areas.

On July 9, Gov. Scott declared a state of emergency regarding the high water situation. This state of emergency superseded all procurement policy guidelines, thereby, allowing SFWMD to expedite the acquisition and installation of temporary pumps. These pumps will move water from Water Conservation Area 3B in Miami-Dade County into Northeast Shark River Slough in Everglades National Park.
Other actions being taken by SFWMD to mitigate the high water emergency include:
  • Utilizing completed components of Gov. Scott's Restoration Strategies Plan, such as the A-1 and L-8 Flow Equalization Basins, to store water.
  • Storing water on private and publicly owned lands through the Dispersed Water Management program.
  • Routing local basin water to tide through the C-51 Canal to minimize the amount of water that gravity flows into Lake Okeechobee through the L-8 Canal.
  • Raising water levels in the L-29 Canal in Miami-Dade County from 7.5 to 8 feet after receiving authorization from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, significantly increasing the amount of water that can be moved out of the conservation areas and to the south.
As more measures are implemented, details will be available on the Managing High Water website.
Online channels to learn more about efforts to lower water levels
Media Contact: 
Randy Smith  |   rrsmith@sfwmd.gov    |  Office: 561-682-2800  |  Cell: 561-389-3386
The South Florida Water Management District is a regional governmental agency that manages the water resources in the southern part of the state. It is the oldest and largest of the state's five water management districts. Our mission is to protect South Florida's water resources by balancing and improving flood control, water supply, water quality and natural systems.

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